Safety in Numbers

by Maria on July 29, 2009

I’m struck by the number of people amongst Capitol Hill’s 2009 50 most beautiful who are from big families, i.e. of 6 or more kids.

A Brussels friend once said the Irish are so numerous in the European Commission because so many of the first wave of them were from big families and were therefore natural masters of deal-making and compromise. Until the last decade or two, probably most of the Irish population were middle children of large-ish families. We do seem to have a disproportionate number of countrymen in the European and other international institutions, and some of them have done remarkably well. (Alternative theories may include mass emigration in the 1970s and 80s and a bit of path dependence since whatever other qualities the Irish abroad may have, we love to give a leg up to our compatriots. Also, there are more people from big families because, well, there are more of them.)

More Hill staffers than I would have expected come from big families. (Alternative theories: lots are from recently immigrated families, or maybe the profile writers draw more attention to the big families because they’re unusual, or maybe beautiful people are inexplicably more likely to have many siblings…) Intuitively, people who’ve grown up in a large family will have been doing power-plays, coalition-building and breaking, and all sorts of tactical shenanigans since before they could talk. Perhaps the early practice gives them an edge?

I’ve never rated the emphasis placed in popular psychology on the roles of the Eldest Child, Middle Child and Youngest Child. I’m one of the 60% of my siblings who are middle children and I never noticed a particular bent towards peace-making amongst us. But maybe there’s something to it.

In any case, check out the Wyoming cowboy on page 2. I wouldn’t mind building a coalition with him.